It's something you have to pay attention to, no matter what your business is. And it's one of the key points behind my e-book Tom Brady Always Wins (10 Successful Rules From the GOAT), which you can download here for free.
The question wasn't just about whether Brady or his former coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots was more important when they were on the same team. It wasn't even about whether Brady is truly the greatest football player of all time. (He put that question to rest, though.)
Instead, it was this: Can you recruit and develop the highest-quality teammates, who will perform at the top level, elevate your game, and help you achieve your goals?
Brady answered this question so literally and dramatically last night that George Plimpton couldn't have written the script.
Because there were four touchdowns in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. They were scored by three players:
- Rob Gronkowski (two touchdowns),
- Antonio Brown (one), and
- Leonard Fournette (Brady handed off to him for a rushing touchdown).
Each of these three players is someone who was not playing for the Bucs a year ago, and who Brady instead recruited to his cause, after he joined the team himself.
To be clear, this is not how this normally works in pro sports. One player, even a star, doesn't usually have a side hustle as a general manager or director of personnel. Let's quickly go through each player's background and how Brady recruited them.
First: Gronkowski, who caught two touchdowns, and who was previously Brady's teammate without peer in New England from 2010 to 2018. Gronkowski actually retired for the 2019 season, but Brady persuaded him to come back to the NFL and join him in Tampa.
"It really was Tom," coach Bruce Arians said last May. "I didn't even think it was a possibility ... And [Brady] was so adamant about it."
Second: Brown, a wide receiver, who caught one touchdown pass last night. Brady not only recruited Brown to the Bucs after Brown served an eight-game suspension to start this season; he invited Brown to live with his family in his house.
"Brady lobbied me back in, gosh, June, July, August" to bring Brown to the team, Arians said earlier.
Finally, Fournette, who scored the rushing touchdown, and who had been cut by his previous team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brady reached out to him immediately afterward.
"The first guy that hit me when it happened was Tom," Fournette said in an interview a few weeks ago. "Tom hit me like, 'Man, I would love for you to come help us out.' [W]ho wouldn't want to play with Tom?"
See what I mean? Brady didn't just leave the Patriots for Tampa. He didn't just set out to win an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl. He set out to help build a team--and recruit the people he needed.
Almost every business leader I've ever written about, and every boss I've ever worked for, talks about how "our people are our greatest asset" or "all the credit goes to our team."
It's a deft way to project humility, share credit, and build morale. But I also wonder if some people sometimes take the wrong lesson.
It's not that success is out of the boss's hands, and that it instead rests squarely on the shoulders of the team members he or she leads.
Instead, it goes to whether you can recruit and develop the people you need most. If you're the leader and you can't truthfully, confidently say that you have the best people on the planet working with you -- well, then, that's on you.
In other words, are you an A player who recruits and develops other A players? Or are you a B player who recruits Cs and Ds?
Nobody really wants to work with Cs and Ds, unless they're halfway to retirement and don't really care about reaching a goal anymore.
That's the funny thing about Brady signing on with a team in Florida, and recruiting so many other key players to go with him. It's that people often head down there to retire.
Not Brady and the team he recruited, though. They went to win championships.